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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 02-17-07, 02:44 AM   #1
sac02
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An honest question, about messengers and fixies

This is an honest question. I'm not trolling or looking to be flamed, scout's honor.

Why do messengers ride fixed gear bikes? I've been thinking about this and I'm honestly curious. The engineer in me wonders why, when the object of the job is to deliver as many packages, in as little time, to make as much money as possible, the messenger does not choose a geared bike. When speed is the name of the game, a geared bike just seems like the better choice. Perhaps call it: "choosing the right tool for the job at hand".

I hope not too many people will argue that a geared bike ridden at the same intensity level will be faster than a fixie.

So far, the possible reasons reasons I've come up with are:
1) Culture. I feel this is likely the overriding reason. For whatever reason, fixed gears became popular with the messenger crowd, and it would be hard for a messenger to go against convention and ride a geared bike.
2) Maintenance / cost of ownership. Whether due to the average messenger's relatively meager pay, or the abuse the bike may endure, the simplicity, low cost, and low maintenance of a fixed gear bike is desireable.

That's about all I've got. Any oppinions?

Mac
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Old 02-17-07, 03:51 AM   #2
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There's always reliability/simplicity. It's amazing how many battles will be won by way of Occam's Razor.
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Old 02-17-07, 05:19 AM   #3
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not all messengers ride fixies dude.
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Old 02-17-07, 06:38 AM   #4
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control in hairball traffic. "zen" or whatever. connectedness...i dunno, i like fixed for that reason.

plus, you're out in all weather...no loss of brake power in rain and snow. i rode with a girl in portland who had a track bike, but never dragged it out for work. i thought she was silly. especially when it would get hairy during the rainy season and she would experience no brakes on a freewheel due to her rims being wet.
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Old 02-17-07, 07:01 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sac02

I hope not too many people will argue that a geared bike ridden at the same intensity level will be faster than a fixie.
Not always, but in many cases yeah. Keep in mind that a well built fixie can be very light and have very little drivetrain drag (yes the difference is noticeable)
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Old 02-17-07, 07:06 AM   #6
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They probably make working really fun too. Which could lead to motivation while on the job, and that could keep a messenger from maybe getting hit. A lot of the guys I know that ride track bikes are really, really motivated riders. Which is totally awesome. When you are all about riding your bike and having fun, getting out there everyday and making a living is a lot easier. Of course... this is most likely the case with any bike.

But yea, all the reasons stated previously would be my guess. Simplicity (not just in design, but also in the fact that they are usually faster to take care of on the road), low-cost, ect.
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Old 02-17-07, 07:27 AM   #7
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This has little bearing on why choosing the simplest bike for a job in which you ride up to 10 hours a day is the best option, however in a sprint a rider on a track bike, even one not geared at a sprinter's preferred gear inches, can beat a road bike. For example, at NACCC '06, Zak, a messenger on a 25 year old track bike, beat Adam Ford, a seasoned racer (and former messenger),who was on his Ti/Carbon IF Crown Jewel. Now, I'm going to guess that in a road race Zak would probably lose, but we are talking about short trips between buildings as part of the messenger job, and a rush job is similar to the sprint situation I've described. An experienced and determined rider of any bike will be fast and whether or not a road bike would be more efficient or faster on days of inclement weather often doesn't diminish the reliability of fewer parts and a direct connection with the road.
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Old 02-17-07, 09:14 AM   #8
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A run is what? 2-3 miles? That's around 40-60 city blocks round trip? For the same price, you can get a much lighter bike, a much lower maintainence bike, and a much more efficient bike in a fixie/SS. Plus less people wanna steal it cause it's worth less. There is a lot of constant slowing down and accelerating at intersections and the efficiency allows you to take off real fast and the track geometry allows it to be really nimble. Put it this way, when you need to go really fast for a really long time, you'd want something like a M5, if you wanna be zipping in and out of traffic all day, you'd want a miata.
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Old 02-17-07, 09:35 AM   #9
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95% of messengers i see ride mountain bikes.
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Old 02-17-07, 09:50 AM   #10
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very true, especially in nyc. and after that, I see more messengers riding road bikes than fixed gears
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Old 02-17-07, 10:19 AM   #11
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It doesn't really make that much of a difference. All you really gotta do is make the lights (or run them), have a efficient route, and know the buildings. You wouldn't really go all out, all day long. You'd get too stressed out. Besides, if the dispatching is good, you'd rarely ride more than maybe 6 blocks at a time. Besides, it's a job. Ride what you like to ride. Most people don't realize that you spend as much time off the bike as on it, and the job isn't just riding your bike all day.

Here most messengers who work hard and try to make a lot of money have multiple bikes, which usually includes fixed and road.

There's a lot more to clean on a road bike too.
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Old 02-17-07, 10:33 AM   #12
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This is the reason I and guys I came up with rode track bikes as messengers.

1. Its fun!

2. Maintenance is easy and easy to get stuff fixed.

3. Easy to ride in and with the flow of traffic.

4. Easy the control when somebody jumps in front of you.

5.During bad weather , see 1-4 as it applies.

6. During that time, Majority rules.

S/F,
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Old 02-17-07, 10:35 AM   #13
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cause the difference tween geared bike vs a trackbike on big open streets in the flatlands speed wise is like zero unless your some rookie that doesnt have any legs yet, in which case it wont matter what your on, the veterans will destroy you anyway

cause when the weather goes to sheot rim brakes get to be almost worthless and Ive seen gears quit working

peer pressure doesnt have anything to do with it, most of us are type A personalities, we do what we want, people tend to follow or mimic us LOL

and lastly, being a messenger means learning how to ride a bike, and ride one well, and a trackbike allows you to do things you cant do on any other bike, and show off your skills while doing it--> the fun factor, being on a bike all day that you dont like sucks more than bad weather

here locally there's nobody on mtb's in good weather, about 9 or 10 of us on fixed, rest road, maybe 4 or 5 roadie riders

I know when I first started, alot of the things guys were doing made no sense to me, why use only one gear, dont your legs get tired, isnt it more work? Yes its a bit more work, but no your legs dont get tired, after a few months doing 60 miles a day 5 days a week it becomes nothing but business as usual. Rec riders tend to never ride enough to ever get a really good pair of legs under them, so its hard to understand what riding a fixed is really like.
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Old 02-17-07, 10:41 AM   #14
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When speed is the name of the game, a geared bike just seems like the better choice. Perhaps call it: "choosing the right tool for the job at hand".

YOU CHOOSE WHAT TOOL YOU NEED FOR THE JOB. IF IT IS A TRACK, ROAD OR MOUNTAIN BIKE. THE ENDSTATE IS TO GET THE JOB DONE IN THE ALLOWED TIME.


I hope not too many people will argue that a geared bike ridden at the same intensity level will be faster than a fixie.

AS STATED BEFORE IT IS THE RIDER NOT THE BIKE THAT PRODUCES THE INTENSITY OF THE RIDE.

So far, the possible reasons reasons I've come up with are:
1) Culture. I feel this is likely the overriding reason. For whatever reason, fixed gears became popular with the messenger crowd, and it would be hard for a messenger to go against convention and ride a geared bike.

YES , TODAY ITS TRUE BUT IT WAS TIME FOR THE TRACK BIKE TO COME BACK TO THE SCENE AND IT CAME WITH A BLAST.


2) Maintenance / cost of ownership. Whether due to the average messenger's relatively meager pay, or the abuse the bike may endure, the simplicity, low cost, and low maintenance of a fixed gear bike is desireable.

TRUE. ASK THE OWNER WHY HE/SHE CHOSE TO RIDE A TRACK/FIXED WHEELED BIKE.

ANY MORE QUESTIONS FEEL FREE TO ASK.

THESE WERE HONEST ANSWERS.

S/F,
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Old 02-17-07, 10:50 AM   #15
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Oh, also in extreme cold (like colder than -10F), my freewheel starts skipping and coasting in both directions.
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Old 02-17-07, 12:52 PM   #16
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iv seen gear shifter problems and brake malfunctions put my co-workers out of a days work.
they werent happy at all,
i have never come accross any problems with my fixie that have put me out of a days work
im glad i ride one for work
i find it easier to control and you spend less time NOT pedaling so it certainly feels like im doing more on a fixie per day than i did on a free-wheel which is handy for earning more money and doing more runs.
i kno many people who work on roadbikes and hardtail mtn bikes so each to their own
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Old 02-17-07, 01:17 PM   #17
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can we make a section on BF for messengers? fixed/ss doesn't = messenger.
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Old 02-17-07, 01:38 PM   #18
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Cass it's useless to try to ignore the messenger influence on the fixed bike scene. No one else will, so it's best they at least get the straight dope from messengers that like fixed/ss well enough to hang around here.

OP among messengers it's a small minority that ride fixed/track on the street most because they enjoy it but the benefits are there to. Ceya mentions they're quickneasy to maintain and that's the gospel. I've done years of each, geared and fixed, and even for meticulous freaks with tools & rags in their bags for tweaking & polishing the ride on standby, (been there) courier work is hard on your ride. It's all the on & off, the locking in less than ideal places, less than ideal pavement & no choice about it, you go over it. Fixed gears are way less work. A nice internal hub & other specialized set-ups can rival the ease with which a fixie can be maintained, but not beat it.

It boils down to preference, the very large benefit I went into above & for some, weather. They do very well in snow.

I don't think it could be speed, no chance really. I've beaten too many riders who were & are definitely faster & better than me, but my road bike leveled the playing field. It takes a really, really good fixie rider to defeat road bikes in a straight sprint.
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Old 02-17-07, 01:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate
not all messengers ride fixies dude.
+10000
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Old 02-17-07, 01:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cassette
can we make a section on BF for messengers? fixed/ss doesn't = messenger.
I BF needs all it's categories revamped. I love road cycling but majority of the guys in there are weekend riders who only ride for the exercise, or are racers. And they hate you if you don't have the newest gear set up like theirs. I "commute" but everyone in commutting are super extreme about it, riding 40 miles a day to work and whatnot. I don't even have a fixie yet but at least the guys here are more open minded and stuff (and usually in their 20's, which probably makes a difference), so I'm here more and more.
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Old 02-17-07, 01:53 PM   #21
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Correct me if I'm wrong but messengers with fixies seem to be close to the majority in Portland, followed by road and mountain bikes (possibly converted to single speed).
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Old 02-17-07, 02:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blickblocks
I don't even have a fixie yet

LEAVE.
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Old 02-17-07, 02:29 PM   #23
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I have better control with a fixed
It is flat in my town and traffic is a pain so sprinting in one gear is easiest
Shifting confuses me
Less stuff to steal
Trackstanding at lights saves a little time
Better traction in the rain (I control the rear wheel completely so if I feel it slip I slow it to get a grip)
Cost
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Old 02-17-07, 03:15 PM   #24
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fixed gear bikes and messengers...blah, blah, blah... yawn.

really, why do you ponder this stuff?
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Old 02-17-07, 03:33 PM   #25
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we're talking about the greatest fashion accesory since Louis Vuiton started making hand bags.
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